The Role of Women in Global Affairs
DATE: Tuesday, November 17, 2017
SUBJECT: Paving the Way for a More Inclusive Working Environment | WIGA NYC
It is important to keep up a work-life balance, even though it can be difficult in the field of global affairs.
Building a social network is key, both with women and men.
Women should be open to and accepting of all opportunities, even if they do not follow their “plan”.
Women should not be shy and should go after what they want.
The event can be viewed: here.
Date: Friday, November 16, 2017
Time: 5:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: Room 914 Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square S, New York, NY 10003
Kristina Koch, Chief of Recruitment, Department of Field Support at United Nations
Alison Mille, Deputy Director for Management, The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Joanna D. Underwood, Founder and Chair, Energy Vision
Laetitia De Marez, Senior International Climate Finance Expert and Policy Analyst, Climate Analytics
Mary Jane Ajoda, Vice President, Client Service Delivery Strategy at BNY Mellon
Yaël Eisenstat, Adjunct Professor, NYU's Center for Global Affairs
The moderator, Kristina Koch, opened the panel with by saying “we were all once in your shoes.” She stated that we have to bring men into the conversation since they are already at the top and can advocate for progression of women in the work force. She emphasized the importance of teamwork, stating that emotional intelligence and technical skills are what gets people hired. Yaël Eisenstat also emphasized on being a team player, saying that humility and willingness to learn helps women prove themselves in the field. Laetitia De Marez added that it is important for women to claim their successes, stating “you should not wait to be recognized for your hard work.”
Most of the panel emphasized on creating and maintaining a social network. Marez stated, “solidarity between women is important,” citing networking as a way to unite and strengthen women as a community. Joanna Underwood stated that most women feel insecure on whether they can live up to their expectations and that “building your network of friends is very important” in that context. Alison Miller also added that women are great at working in teams and should capitalize on that ability through social networking. Koch made the comment that women should not strive too hard for perfection, since it gets in the way of keeping up with social connections.
On maintaining a work-life balance, Marez stated that it is “a major issue” for women working in global affairs and can be very taxing; however, she said that it is “extremely enriching” to meet different people and cultures when traveling, especially in developing countries. Eisenstat and Miller also agreed with that. Miller stated that staying in communication with friends and family is important, but “you can’t plan for everything.”
Eisenstat emphasized on women taking the opportunities offered to them, even if they are not in line with what they have planned. She stated that women should not be stuck on what they want to do, since new and promising opportunities may open up.
When starting a career, Miller stated that women should apply for jobs even if they do not meet all the requirements. She also emphasized that women should negotiate their starting salary, saying that employers expect people to negotiate and that it will set a precedent for all future raises.
On mentorship, Miller stated that it should be “something that happens organically.” She said that if a woman works hard and speaks up, a relationship with a mentor will develop naturally. Koch added that women should invest in a mentorship when they see it.
On how far women have progressed in the work force, Marez said, “there’s still a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way.” Mary Jane Ajodah agreed, stating that she is “incredibly optimistic” since there is more pressure today for data to back up a decision in management, meaning that there is a more objective assessment of women’s capabilities.
Q: What does your morning routine look like?
A: Miller answered this question, stating that she uses her mornings for “me-time” and spending time with her baby. She makes sure not to look at her email or phone, leaving her commute as the time to get updated.
Q: How do you stay motivated when you are turned down?
A: Eisenstat said not to make the rejection about yourself or your faults. She also added that the rejection might open another door for you.
Q: What is the best kind of internship?
A: Marez recommended an internship at a small organization or a startup, since you can get promoted very quickly; however, she added that an any internship, it is important to remain proactive and always be willing to try new things. She also stated that interns need to stay motivated and dedicated because “people talk.”
Q: How do you get your foot in the door and build practical experience?
A: Koch responded, “use the career services that you have,” such as NYU’s Wasserman Center. On going to job interviews, Eisenstat stated, “I have always been authentically myself,” emphasizing that being genuine is a huge part of getting hired and doing well in your role. She also stated that people new to the work force have to accept some grunt work in order to build a resume. Ajodah added that getting a job is easier in the private sector than in the public sector.
Q: How do you get your foot in the door at the UN?
A: Koch recommended taking part in the UN volunteer program, since it is the “primary talent pool” or simply applying to UN rosters and being ready to go anywhere. She also added that speaking French or Arabic is a huge asset.
Q: What is challenging about changing your career path?
A: Eisenstat answered this question, stating that her biggest challenge was answering the question, “so what do you want to do?” She said that she had too many answers to that question, but learned to cater her answer based on who she was talking to.
Q: How do you sell yourself and your strengths?
A: Koch said to take courses on public speaking. Underwood gave the advice to act as if “you’re actually interviewing [the potential employer],” since it will put you in a better mental position and you will have better questions to ask.
Q: How do you see genders when hiring?
A: Ajodah answered this question, stating that who she hires really depends on the talents and skills that are brought to the table, not gender.
Report by: Sonia Hossain, Event Reporter. Editor: Shengdun Hua